Art Along Trails

Murals, sculptures, decorative paving, and memorials can all be ways of enhancing trails with art.

by Stuart Macdonald, Chair, National Assoc. of State Trail Administrators

August 17, 2018

Salmon sculpture called “Leaper” by Tom Jay, 2003, along Riverside Park trail in Mount Vernon, Washington.

Art can celebrate history, as sculptures at National Historic Trail sites. Art can also add richness to the historic elements that have been preserved along with trail corridors. Images of former railroads and the urban past have inspired art along rail trails. Some trails wind through industrial areas where murals add interest to walls and bridges. Art can also bring an element of surprise and unexpected elements along the trail route. Art can be a way of involving more of the community in trails, and schools have also taken on an artistic project for a greenway. Here are some selections from the wide variety of artistic installations on trails across America.

 

Photos in this Collection

A variety of sculptures are sponsored by the Port of San Diego along the bayfront Embarcadero trail

Murals of local history line the Downtown Lakewalk in Duluth, Minnesota, a rails with trail project;

Sculpture on the Mary Carter Greenway along the Platte River, South Suburban Park District, Littleton, Colorado;

Big guitars along the Town Lake Trail in Austin, Texas;

Incised poems and images in concrete trail along Denver’s Platte River Greenway

Artistic shade structures add interesting shadows to park trail in downtown Phoenix, Arizona

Ogden Nature Center’s annual exhibition of artistic birdhouses along its trail system in Ogden, Utah

Murals on freeway piers along trail through San Diego’s Chicano Park

Sandstone slabs make an artistic gateway to a section of Cherry Creek Trail, Denver, Colorado.

Salmon sculpture called “Leaper” by Tom Jay, 2003, along Riverside Park trail in Mount Vernon, Washington.

Cut steel sculptural fence interprets natural features along Quad Cities RiverWay at Arsenal Island.

Walk-through sculpture on trail in Seattle’s Space Needle Park

Historic sculpture commemorates rower John B. Kelly along Philadephia’s Schuylkill River greenway

Naval sculptures are part of USS San Diego Memorial along San Diego’s Embarcadero trail

Naval sculptures are part of USS San Diego Memorial along San Diego’s Embarcadero trail

Sculptural gateway arch along Chattanooga’s Tennessee River Park greenway

Sculpture along Riverfront Trail System in Grand Junction, Colorado

About the Author

Stuart Macdonald spent 19 years as Colorado's State Trails Coordinator. He is the editor of American Trails Magazine. During 1998-99, he represented State Trail Administrators on the national committee that proposed regulations for accessible trails. He chaired the National Recreational Trails Committee, which advised the Federal Highway Administration in the first years of the Recreational Trails Program. Stuart grew up in San Diego and his main outdoor interest besides trails is surfing. He has a BA in English from San Francisco State and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from Utah State.

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